It Takes a Team: Why You May Need More Than Just a Lawyer in Divorce

By Sheri Ferguson, Senior Alberta Family Lawyer

Divorce is a complex, emotional rollercoaster that can affect every aspect of your life. During this turbulent time, disagreements over parenting time, selling the family home, or dividing other significant family possessions can lead to unexpected emotional reactions. The impulse to vent frustrations—such as publicly calling out an ex on social media for introducing a new girlfriend to the children—can further complicate matters.

As family lawyers, we understand and recognize that you may not always be at your best. For many people going through a divorce, there are behaviours that may need to be addressed and adjusted, and part of our role is to help you identify decisions that do not serve your best legal interests. Ultimately, your family lawyer knows the law and is there to provide legal advice and guidance; however, the scope of their support is limited. While family lawyers provide essential legal advice and can assist clients in managing some emotional challenges or identifying potential financial or tax implications, our expertise does not extend to psychological or financial counseling.

While legal guidance is recommended and highly beneficial, a successful outcome usually requires a broader perspective - it takes a team! That’s why we often encourage our clients build a professional support system. In doing so, your team of allies can work collaboratively with you to ensure all aspects of your well-being are considered, helping you make informed decisions that are both legally and emotionally beneficial.

Here are our suggestions for assembling a team of allies to guide and support you through the process.

Prioritize Your Mental Health

During a divorce or separation, maintaining your own mental well-being, as well as that of your children, is as important as securing legal representation—perhaps even more so. A trusted counselor or psychologist can serve as an invaluable sounding board, offering clinical insights and support that go well beyond anything your family lawyer can provide. It can help greatly to have regular reminders that you are not, in fact, suffering from a mental disorder during those times when the divorce process has worn down your resiliency.

Moreover, they can equip you with a variety of tools and resources to support emotion regulation, improve communication skills, and help manage stress throughout the process. Seeking help from mental health professionals—such as psychologists, social workers, and school counselors—is not only beneficial, but also cost-effective. Many of these specialists offer services at rates significantly lower than those of lawyers, and organizations like the Calgary Counselling Centre or YEG Family Counselling provide affordable or subsidized counseling options.

Go to the Experts When It Comes to Your Finances

While family lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced in dividing complex or high-value assets and properties, there are nuanced financial considerations that may necessitate specialized expertise. Enlist the help of financial professionals to assess corporate financial information, value the family business, provide tax or pension advice, and assist with financial planning. These experts, including tax planners, accountants, wealth managers, and pension analysts, can offer invaluable insights during the settlement process.

Family lawyers often have a broad understanding of legal financial implications, and more senior lawyers may even specialize in cases involving substantial assets. However, the detailed analysis required in assessing and dividing these assets typically goes beyond their scope of practice. By involving financial experts, you gain the added security of expert financial advice before making binding settlement decisions. This is especially important if you are dealing with significant assets, where the value added by these experts cannot be overstated. Their specialized knowledge ensures all financial aspects are thoroughly evaluated, helping to safeguard your interests and those of your family during financial negotiations.

Hire a Trained Divorce Coach

Divorce coaches are trained professionals equipped to guide you through every phase of the separation process. They help validate and normalize your emotions, discuss logistics and decision-making, and ensure you are well-prepared for each step – including meetings with your lawyer, mediation, questioning, or any other necessary proceeding. As unbiased partners, divorce coaches assist with evaluating your options, facilitating communication with a difficult ex, and managing stress to clear the way for sound decision-making.

Having a skilled divorce coach not only makes a family lawyer’s job more manageable by allowing us to focus on legal strategies, but also reduces the costs and emotional strain. By providing essential support and tools, a divorce coach can ease your journey through divorce and set a strong foundation for your future.

Use More Affordable Professionals for Your Case

Hiring a family lawyer can be costly, particularly if your case goes to court where preparation and attendance can significantly inflate legal costs. If budget is a concern, be candid with your lawyer about your financial constraints and discuss available options. One strategy might be to involve your primary lawyer for essential advice and legal assessments, while delegating more routine tasks, such as document drafting, to a paralegal or junior lawyer. This approach can help manage costs without compromising the quality of your legal support.

Another cost-effective option is legal coaching. Unlike divorce coaches, legal coaches are experienced legal professionals who offer unbundled services to self-represented litigants. This arrangement allows you to maintain control of your case with the benefit of a lawyer or paralegal providing guidance in the background. They focus on coaching you throughout the process, offering advice and legal information to maximize the support you receive while keeping costs manageable. If you are considering legal coaching services, be sure to check out the options available through our sister company, Coach My Case.

The bottom line is that the more sources of support you have, the better your chances of a positive outcome. At Crossroads Law, we believe in the power of collaboration and involving outside professionals to enrich our advocacy and client service. Whether it's the expert guidance of financial analysts or the emotional support from psychologists, having multiple experts involved can make a big difference.

To understand how Crossroads Law can help you navigate your separation or divorce with the robust support of a multidisciplinary team, schedule a free 20-minute consultation today. Empower yourself with the right support to face this challenging phase of your life with confidence and clarity.

The information contained in this blog is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only.